France announces contest to redesign Notre Dame spire
PM says rebuilt cathedral could reflect ‘techniques and challenges of our times’
Story by Jon Henley
Article repost from The Guardian on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.
The flaming spire of Notre Dame Cathedral topples into the roof. Photograph: Thierry Mallet/AP
France will launch an international architectural competition to redesign the roofline of Notre Dame Cathedral after a huge fire gutted the oak-beamed structure and sent its spire crashing into the nave, the prime minister has said.
Édouard Philippe said the competition would give the 850-year-old building “a spire suited to the techniques and challenges of our time”. He said an estimation of the cost of rebuilding the cathedral had yet to be made. French billionaires, multinationals and private citizens have so far raised €880m (£762m) for the restoration.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, promised the nation on Tuesday night that Notre Dame would be rebuilt – and be “more beautiful than before” – within five years, a timetable many experts consider impossible.
Notre Dame’s rector said he expected the building to remain closed to the public for five to six years. “A segment has been very weakened,” said Bishop Patrick Chauvet.
A fire service spokesman said there was no immediate danger that the structure, which lost two-thirds of its roof in the fire, would collapse. But it was not yet considered secure enough for investigators to enter and start examining the source of the fire in situ, the prosecutor’s office said.